Blueprint for future of hurling revealed

Written in stone, that would appear to be the case for both the Munster and Leinster championships after the GAA’s Coiste Bainistí (Management Committee) released its proposals for the hurling championship format for the years ‘2014 to 2016 and beyond’.

In the various championships, the main points of the proposal for the next three years are as follows:

l A 15-team Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2014, reducing to 13 by 2016

l Five teams in Munster Championship as per current format (Cork, Tipperary, Waterford, Clare, Limerick — no change)

l Five teams guaranteed a place in the Leinster Championship proper each year (Kilkenny, Galway, Dublin, Wexford, Offaly)

l Additional qualification for Leinster quarter-finals from a preliminary section or ‘qualifying group’ for what can be termed ‘developing counties’ (initially Laois, Antrim, Westmeath, Carlow, London)

Automatic relegation to Christy Ring Cup in 2014 and 2015 only for bottom-placed team in MacCarthy Cup (reducing numbers in qualifying group from five to three by 2016)

* Only teams from qualifying group for developing counties can be relegated — review of these teams to take place every three years.

* An opportunity for promotion to the MacCarthy from the Christy Ring Cup each year but based on merit and the principle of ‘win your way up’ (i.e. no automatic promotion/relegation, presume this means also play-off/relegation games between relevant teams).

* Similar phased realigning of counties through Ring and Rackard Cups through 2014 and 2015 to final solution of stronger and more meaningful eight-team Ring and Rackard Cups and four-team Meagher Cup for 2016 Championship (in line with the vision of the 2008 Hurling Development proposals)

* Opportunity for promotion from Rackard and Meagher Cups also based on merit and the principle of ‘win your way up’.

This proposal was approved by Coiste Bainistí for presentation to Árd Chomhairle (Central Council) at its next meeting, scheduled for December 15 next.

Should the Árd Chomhairle accept this proposal, it will be put to Congress 2013 by way of motion in the name of Árd Chomhairle.

Those proposed changes would impact only those in the middle and lower divisions and will probably be rubber-stamped all the way through to next year’s Congress.

In the second set of proposals produced yesterday, in which three options are given for the Allianz Hurling League from 2014 onwards, one will be chosen by the Árd Chomhairle.

The first two proposals are variations on the current three-division set-up, with two groups (A and B) in each division, six teams in each of the top two divisions.

In Option 1, the key principles are:

* Three divisions split into ‘A’ and ‘B’ groups based on 2013 league finishing positions.

* Introduction of quarter-finals to ensure an extra game for each county.

* Promotion/relegation between divisions by means of promotion/relegation play-off.

* Promotion/relegation between groups of the same division is automatic.

* Each team in Division 1 can win the title in theory, regardless of which group they are in.

* No Division 1B final.

* 2014 leagues to be based on 2013 league finishing positions

Option 2 retains the status quo of three divisions, with no quarter-finals in division 1, top two play-off in division * A, winner contesting the league semi-final proper. There would be no relegation/promotion between divisions two and three.

The third proposal is the major departure. This proposal has four divisions, the three top divisions with eight teams each, the fourth with two groups, 4A with six teams, 4B with four.

The major change here would be the extra round-robin games for the teams in the top three divisions, seven games each, with play-offs between the bottom team of one division and the top team of the division below to decide promotion/relegation.

Division 1 would be the only division to have league semi-finals, all other divisional titles decided in a play-off game between the top two.

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